Wednesday, December 4, 2013

#WWoW!: Formatting Ebooks with @dochappycamper #indie #MyWANA

Welcome back to Tammy's Tidbits here at Writer's Words of Wisdom. This is going to be my last post of the year because of all the holidays...and my birthday in less than two weeks. (whoohoo!) I'm also in the middle of a hefty publication schedule. As the co-owner of Sassy Vixen Publishing, it's not only my responsibility to get my own books ready to publish, but those of our other authors as well. With one new release down and two more to go for the next month, my plate is a bit full. 

I'm now published under three pen names, a fourth in the wings and part of an anthology with three of my author friends. In fact, the anthology comes out in just nine days. I've been working on formatting five novellas into one file to upload to Smashwords, All Romance Ebooks and Amazon. It's not as easy as just uploading a Word file to each site and hope for the best. You see, there are a lot of things that are hidden in the code of Microsoft Word that will make an ebook a mess of errors on an ereader.

So how do you prevent it from happening? 

You could have someone format it for you. That could cost you a pretty penny and if you're just starting out like I was, you need to watch the budget. Unless you have a friend or family member who has published ebooks before...and they look fabulous on those little screens, you need to learn how to do this yourself and fast.

How?  The Smashwords Style Guide.

I know what you're thinking. Why would you use the guide to publish on Smashwords to create files for other sites? Easy. This book has detailed instructions on how to make a file that is stripped of all the hidden codes, lines, tab settings, indents etc that can make your ebook look ugly and jarring to the reader. If your manuscript makes it through the Smashwords "Meatgrinder" you can be darn sure it will make it through the other site

One of the biggest issues I've come across in the ebooks I've read for pleasure and to review inappropriate set up of a paragraph. If you use the built in tab settings to do indents or Goddess forbid, multiple spaces to get an indent, your ebook will have paragraphs that start in the middle or two thirds into the line. If your manuscript is more than single spaced, your ebook will have huge gaps between lines and look bizarre on those ereader screens.

The Style Guide walks you through each step on how to set up your paragraph so that every indent will be the same as well as the justification to the left or whatever you choose. Here's a few screen shots of what I mean. Now these are not in the guide, but are from a tutorial on how to use Microsoft Word. Similar pics are in the Guide and you can refer to them over and over again when you format your books.
I set up my paragraphs to have a first line indent of 0.3", single spaced and left justified. All the margins I set to 0 inches. This is my basic set up for any of my manuscripts for self publishing. Now if you're submitting your manuscript to a publisher, you have to follow their guidelines. You can do that here too. 

The above is a close up of the window you use to set up the indents. All of these pointers and more are in the Style Guide.

Best thing about's FREE.

That's right. This guide is FREE. You can download it from Amazon or from Smashwords right to your Kindle and have it to refer to every single time you need it. The goal of the guide is to help you create a beautiful looking that shows up on all the electronic reading devices.

In this day and age where anyone and their brother can publish a book on their own, we have to do something to make our work stand out in a good way. Self published authors already have a bad reputation for having poorly edited and formatted books out there. Why not make sure yours isn't one of them? 

Join me and many others out there who swear by this guide and the methods detailed inside. Help me give self published authors a better name and put our best foot out there. No longer will reviewers and readers have the excuse to slam us and treat us as if we're inferior because our ebooks look like landmines filled with formatting errors.

One final note: if you do have someone else format your book for you, make sure you review it on the various ereaders. You can download free versions of all of them from the web. Just because your book looks good in print or in .doc file, doesn't mean it will look the same in EPUB, MOBI, PDF or HTML.

Food for thought! 
Until next time,

Learn More About Tammy

Tammy Dennings Maggy is a best selling, multi-published poet and erotic romance author with Siren and Sassy Vixen Publishing. Her writing explores many facets of romance from ultimate betrayal to finding your soul mate. Her poetry serves as a companion to her novels and has inspired entire series all on their own. Tammy and her alter egos Lia Michaels and Stephanie Ryan make up the core authors at Sassy Vixen Publishing and together they've created the shared world series Temptations Resort. Look for the first books in that series to come out later this year.

Now happily married to her own Muse and soul mate, she continues to live her dream and act as secretary to all her characters demanding to have their stories told.

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